Black Community

Mental Illness In The Black Community

I was 23 before I started going to a counselor for my actions and symptoms that were very similar to the same symptoms of depression. I was depressed most days of the week which caused me to not eat for most days of the week. I lost weight and was awake for more than 12 hours of the day with 4 -5 hours of sleep thrown in here and there. My partner at the time also dealt with issues with mental health and rarely focused on me. I spent most of my time trying to make sure he was doing okay, emotionally and mentally. To make sure he didn’t slip into the mindset where he may have felt as though his life had no more meaning and tried to end it. When I wasn’t doing that I was studying. I was in the library for 7-10 hours at a time and even once I left the library I would go straight back to my dorm room to study until I had to go to class again or I would head straight to class to learn new information. This was my life the last year and a half I was in college. I was always alone and even when I wasn’t alone, may be hanging out with friends I wasn’t mentally there. I always tried to find a way to be alone in my dorm room so that spent more time studying as I could then have an excuse to tell my friends as to why I didn’t show up to have lunch or an event. I felt empty and numb most of the time wondering why I even woke up most mornings. I didn’t tell anyone about these feelings, not my mom or my sister and I felt like if I did they would ask me why I felt this way when my life was so good. When I had more opportunities than most young adults my age get, why would or how could I be depressed?

Mental health or mental illness is rarely discussed within the black community. In the black community, mental illness is thought of as a “white person’s disease” it is nothing that affects black people. But mental illness is not dependent upon race or gender. Mental health is extremely important for any and everyone, no matter their race may experience or deal with mental health issues. Without mental health, we can not be healthy. Everyone experiences emotional ups and downs, including black people.

“According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.” (African American Mental Health. National Alliance on Mental Illness). The statistic is true, although black people are more likely to deal with psychological distress versus their white counterparts, black people are less likely to seek help when dealing with mental health issues. The stigma surrounding mental illness in the black community is heavy as black people feel as though choosing to seek professional help, such as a therapist is a sign of weakness. The topic of mental health is largely absent from discourse in the black community. It is not a topic that is talked about amongst friends or family given the stigma associated with mental illness in the black community. In fact, some family members may even ridicule or make fun of the individual dealing with the mental illness. As a result, individuals in the black community choose to suffer in silence rather than telling anyone what they may be dealing with.

One of the reasons psychologists say black people suffer more from mental illness versus their white counterparts is because of the “psycho-social reason, including socio-economic status, poverty, and crime in African-American communities.” (Nia Hamm. Black Folks and Mental Health: Why Do We Suffer in Silence? Ebony). Black people tend to feel as though their suffering is a normal and expected outcome given our history from slavery to present. But also dealing with the fact that in a country that is predominantly white, we are the outsider. As an outsider, we are more prone to discrimination and actions from the majority that may also contribute to mental illness developing at an accelerated rate.

But how do we as black people change the conversation of mental health in the black community? Well, that’s not going to be easy, but the first step is getting the conversation going. I have already seen young black millennials take the lead and start discussing the topic of mental health on a public platform. At the beginning of May, The Fader published an article on Victor Pope Jr, a comedian, and social media star, where The Fader interviewed Victor Pope Jr to discuss his YouTube video where he openly talks about living with Bipolar Disorder. You can find the link to the article here.  Also, providing the resources to black people in the black community of more affordable options that will help their mental health. Recently, more people are using virtual therapy such as talkspace, where a person is able to text or skype their therapist. This would allow for black people to not have to go into an office or force them to let family members or friends know where they are going, but also make therapy more accessible.

There is still a long way to go before black people may become comfortable and more open and accepting of the thought of mental illness as well as talking about it in comfortable spaces such as, barbershops, family functions, and events, but I think once black people are more educated on mental illness as well as therapy it will be easier for it to be talked about in the black community.

But just a reminder to everyone if it has never been said to you before:

It is okay if you are sad if you get depressed if you get anxious or have anxiety if you just can’t seem to find a reason to get out of bed on some mornings because of how you are feeling. Your emotions are valid and you are valid.

Mental Illness in BC Pic


The Cardi B Clapback

The Love & Hip-Hop reunion happened. The original Love and Hip-Hop by the way that takes place in New York. Although I haven't seen it yet, I did see the clip of Cardi B telling Peter Gunz the truth regarding his actions on the show and how he has treated both Amina and Tara making its rounds on the internet today. I won't give a full play by play of the conversation, but instead give you a clip of the scene (listed below)

Everything that Cardi B said was true and no, how and what she said was not wrong. Peter does make Amina and Tara look stupid every episode, he makes them look like they are less than what they are. He makes them look weak and vulnerable as if they need him for some odd reason. He needs to focus on his other women and his children, especially because he has 9 of them. And yes, women should treat men the way they treat them. As Cardi B was saying at the beginning of the video it's not hoeing when treating a man the same why he treats you.

But my real issue with the back and forth between Peter and Cardi was not the conversation or what they were talking about, but the way in which Peter spoke to Cardi B. Peter legitimately took offense to what Cardi B was saying about him and how he conducts himself as if he has never heard these things in the past from friends or family members. Matter of fact, in an earlier episode, his friend Rich Dollaz tells him he needs to stop doing what he's doing and to do and be better. Yet, when Cardi B tells him the same thing he says she's being "disrespectful" and that she should basically be quiet as if she doesn't know what she's talking about. I can't stand when men, black men specifically in this instance, who try to silence or dismiss a woman just because they don't like what she's saying. Just they don't feel like she should be saying it as if it's not her place like she can't speak the truth. Yet, men will tell women how they should conduct themselves, how they  should dress, what they should talk about, etc. Let's not forget when Ayesha Curry stated last year she preferred classy over trashy and how black men then proceeded to go in on women and how women should dress with more class and how more women should be like Ayesha Curry.

We have to get past dismissing and silencing others just because we don't agree with what they may say. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but we, as a society, also need to approach the issue of patriarchy and how we treat women in society. While the mistreatment of women in society may not be as overt as it has been in the past, it has simply become more subtle. The disrespect has become more subtle, yet men still show how they really think of women. We need to approach and face these subtle ways head on and then they will start to get fixed.

Leave your comments below and tell me what you thought of the Love & Hip-Hop reunion or what you thought of what Cardi B said. 

Kevin Gates You’re Belligerent: Black Lives Do Matter

Kevin Gates is barely relevant to me, actually  barely is an overstatement in this situation. Kevin Gates never comes up in of my conversations willingly, let alone a conversation about music. He never comes up on my Spotify playlists, his albums do not appear on my Pandora radio's and I prefer it that way but when and if I do hear about Kevin Gates it is never anything good. Just to put this into perspective, the last time I heard about Kevin Gates or had a conversation about him was because he had kicked a girl in her face.

Yes, you read that correctly.  He kicked a girl in her face at one of his concerts.

Oh Kevin Gates. If you’re wondering the reason why he kicked this girl in her face, well it was because he told her to stop pulling on his pants. When the girl did not listen he then proceeded to kick her in the face.I know how dare this concert goer, who is probably truly a fan of Kevin Gates, pull on his pants in excitement because she's seeing him in person.

Although that situation was horrible enough, that will not be the situation I focus on in this blog post as Kevin Gates has once again put himself in hot water. The rapper recently decided to give his opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement *sigh*. I really wish rappers and entertainers would stop giving political opinions. Remember when T.I. said he didn’t want a female president because he felt like they were too emotional, ugh goodness.

Anyway, during an interview with 106 KMEL radio station, Kevin Gates was asked about his opinion on Stacy Dash’s comments regarding the eradication of BET and identifying as American versus African-American ( you can find my post about Stacy Dash's comments here). Kevin Gates stated he did agree with Stacy Dash’s comments (of course he did) and further explained his stance and why he agrees with her. He explained his own personal experiences with police officers by describing one situation where he stated he was acting like an “ignorant belligerent nigger” and deserved to be arrested. He then proceeded to say that holding up signs and shouting “Black Lives Matter” is not going to change anything, that “All Lives Matter.”

Wait. First of all, I’m sorry Kevin Gates you were acting like a what?

I do not understand nor do I agree with black people who think they can take the word “nigger” or "nigga" and try to change it's meaning. Even typing the word makes me cringe, it is a word that was used to oppress the black community. It was used to make us feel low, like we were trash, like we were nothing. So the fact that Kevin Gates uses it not only so loosely, but to also describe himself, makes me think that there is a disconnect between what he thinks of himself and how society may view him.

The problem with Kevin Gates statement besides just the use of the word “nigger” is his perception of the Black Lives Matter movement. His perception of the Black Lives Matter movement is toxic because it is mindsets like those of Kevin Gates that hinders change. His viewpoint creates this perception that the Black Lives Matter movement feels as though all police officers are bad. That is not the case. It is a matter of holding those police officers who have decided to shot and kill unarmed citizens accountable, but also figuring out why this is happening and taking the necessary steps to bring inequalities and injustices to the forefront so they can be resolved or worked on.

Not only is Kevin Gates perception of the Black Lives Matter movement toxic, his use of respectability politics is problematic. Respectability politics or the politics of respectability refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their casual and social values as being continuous and compatible with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream.

Kevin Gates statement that holding up a sign and screaming "Black Lives Matter" wouldn't change anything, followed by his statement that "All Lives Matter" is a clear example of respectability politics. It is a message to those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement that you need to stop because what you're doing is going against the mainstream. It is wrong and it is unnecessary and you should stop it. The use of respectability politics usually comes in the form of the person speaking to someone as if they are a child and I have no need for it. I have never had a use for respectability politics and the use of it by Kevin Gates is definitely unnecessary.

Let me clarify for those who do not know, “Black Lives Matter” is not simply a saying, it is not something we as black people write on signs protest and feel good about ourselves. No, it is something that was created resulting from a terrible incident where an unarmed black teen, Trayvon Martin, was tragically shot just for being a black teen by a vigilante who thought Trayvon Martin was up to no good. Then after that terrible incident, cases similar to Trayvon Martin's and situations where police officers were involved started to happen more and more, to the point where they are now. “Black Lives Matter” is not something we as black people yell out only to be masked by the sound of “All Lives Matter,” no, Kevin Gates you are wrong. “Black Lives Matter” is a movement in retaliation to the unfortunate realization where black people, including me, see that our lives are not as guarded, are not as safe, and are not as important as a white person’s life may be compared to ours. That does not take away from "All Lives Matter" because of course "All Lives Matter" that is a simple matter of empathy, but saying "All Lives Matter" does take away from the situation at hand, because it causes the person to focus on the "All Lives Matter" statement, instead of the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Look here Kevin Gates, while you may not think the Black Lives Matter movement will change anything, let me tell you that it is the actions and the movement behind “Black Lives Matter” that will change something. It is the “Black Lives Matter” activists who are a part of the movement who have met with presidential candidates to hopefully change legislation that will affect police departments and police officers who are shooting unarmed citizens. It is the message that will hopefully change the perception of Americans in the United States. It is the message that will hopefully get America to have conversations and talking about the problems we face because Kevin Gates, that is how you institute change. You get people talking.

Cam Newton Is Not A Boy, He's A Man

Super Bowl 50 happened yesterday and it was the Broncos vs the Panthers. I’m not concerned about the Broncos. From the title of this post that lets you know who I am focused on, so if you would like to show Peyton Manning or the Broncos love you can kindly take several seats because that’s not the issue at hand.

The Broncos won the Super Bowl yesterday by a score of 24–10. It was more of a defensive game in my opinion and the team with the better defense came out on top. That’s cool, no big deal. I was not pulling for the Broncos, I was not hoping they would win, I am a Carolina Panthers fan. I have been a Carolina Panthers fan since I was 15, that was 10 years ago.

Let me be frank, nobody gave a fuck about the Carolina Panthers when they were doing terrible for seasons on end. Nobody gave a fuck about the Panthers when they were losing and when their team was a poorly ran organization. Yet, as soon as Cam Newton came onto the field dabbin once he made a touchdown, doing what people expected of him and what they felt like he should be doing it was great. Hell, the people who are now talking negatively against him were even dabbin with him. I saw a white man dab in front of the camera pre super bowl outside of the stadium.

And then the game started . . . And Cam Newton didn’t perform the way everyone expected or wanted him to.

I am a Cam Newton fan. Not stan, the two are very different, but I do love me some Cam Newton. But let me kindly remind those of you who have forgotten about the main aspect of sports: there’s no “I” in team.

What I saw last night was a man who was throwing and running for his life. Half of you who are talking negatively about Cam Newton can barely run 20 yards or throw a football, let alone play an entire NFL football game. There are differences between playing football for fun with your family and friends in your background and playing football for your livelihood. There are differences between watching football in your LazyBoy and thinking you can execute a better play than the coach or catch or run faster than the player and actually being able to do so.

My boyfriend has played football since he was 7 years old. We have been together for almost 10 years at this point and one of the main things I have learned from listening to him talk game after game after game is your whole team has to be behind you.

Cam Newton’s team was not behind him. They were fumbling, falling and playing as if they were in a daze. Whenever he would throw a ball no one wanted to catch it. It seemed as if Cam Newton was on the field by himself. Yet the Broncos played as if their life depended on the outcome of the game, at least, the defense anyway. The offense played in a way that left a lot to be desired but did just enough to edge out the Panthers, whose offense looked devoid of life outside of their lone touchdown drive.

People made statements about Cam such as, “He should have been practicing instead of dabbin.” Okay girl. “He was dabbing whenever he made a touchdown but now decides to play like a chump.” Actually, his team decided to play like chumps, which Cam’s stat line won’t show, but you know God forbid you decide to educate yourself on the game of football. Google is free and more people should use it before making comments.

Fast forward to the game now being over and social media explodes. Within the first hour, Cam Newton’s timeline is filled with statements such as this tweet from Kim Kardashians ex, Kris Humphries:

During Cam Newton’s post-Super Bowl press conference in the middle of being asked a few questions, he decides to walk off the stage and leave the press conference. People started to say Cam Newton was a sore loser and that he needed some humility. Really? Humility? I remember a certain player by the name of Tom Brady, who plays for the Patriots, who has walked off the field on various occasions. One of those was when the Patriots lost to the Giants in Super Bowl 46. Did anyone scream humility in that situation? Or was it okay because it’s Tom Brady and he’s loved by White America?

But this black quarterback should show more humility in this situation versus his counterparts who have done the same thing, displayed the same actions, but he should be more humble and be a better loser. I don’t know what its like to go to the Super Bowl, but I imagine if I just lost the biggest game of my career I wouldn’t be jumping for joy to talk to the press.

Rob Lowe decides to intercede and comment on Cam Newton’s behavior during the post-Super Bowl press conference.

First of all, Rob Lowe, no one asked for your opinion. On anything. Rob Lowe don’t come for Cam Newton unless someone sends for you, which no one did.

Second . . .*K4Z4DX1N8xiKCdhEQogvMg.jpeg

Bill Romanowski, an ex-Broncos player, decided to give his opinion on Cam Newton’s behavior during the post game press conference and that’s where things took a turn for the worst.

This retired football player decided to not only call Cam Newton, who is also a grown man, a boy, but also said he would choke him out.

Any white man calling a grown black male a “boy” is automatically racist. Period. But for him to go so far as to say he would choke him out, is disgusting.

I do not care if you decide to comment and say, “oh, no that’s not racist and Cam was acting immature and like a child.” Stop. What Bill said regarding Cam Newton was racist.

Bill calling Cam Newton a “boy” is racist. It is the context in which he said it is the problem. Certain words have certain connotation’s attached to them, but I’m sure he knew that. He could have used any other language or term besides the word “boy” but he used it on purpose because that’s how he thinks of Cam Newton. The term “boy”, in its historic context, is something white men and women would use towards black males because they thought of them as children. They didn’t think black males, let alone black people were educated or smart enough to think, make decisions or care for themselves. Which is where the term “boy” came in because children have to be taken care of and black males, black people, were thought of as children.

Bill calling Cam Newton, a grown man with his own family, a “boy” is not only racist but demeaning. It is even worse to realize that as a society we have not made greater strides from the time period of which this term was used so loosely to now, in 2016, where the term is still used so loosely with the same connotation and meaning behind it.

In the words of Crissles from the podcast The Read, words mean things.

Stacy Dash, You Clueless

Ah, Clueless. The 1995 coming of age teen, comedy, romance? Loosely, very loosely based on Jane Austen's novel Emma. The movie was set in Beverly Hills and stars Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Britney Murphy, and *drumroll* Stacy Dash. While all of these actors and actresses have gone on to have I guess you could say successful careers (Paul Rudd was in Ant-Man by the way), Stacy Dash has had the most interesting career. Starring and appearing in various roles on shows such as, The Game and Single Ladies, she now makes guest appearances on Fox and Friends.

Oh yes, Fox and Friends. Fox and Friends is Fox News morning segment airing from 6 am - 9 am with Steve Doocy. Unsurprisingly like most of Fox News programs, Fox and Friends is conservative leaning and is known for its rants and attacks against President Obama.

Last Wednesday, January 20th, Stacy Dash appeared on Fox and Friends and discussed the recent backlash against the Oscars. While discussing this Stacy Dash decided to state her opinion in which she said,"We have to make up our minds, either we want to have segregation or integration,” Dash said. “If we don’t want segregation then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms, it’s a double standard. There shouldn't be a Black History Month. You know? We're Americans. Period. That's it.”

Woo. That's a mouth full Stacy Dash, but also, pump your brakes.

Segregation? Integration? I could have sworn it was 2016, not 1960. When was the last time you heard these terms besides history class? I mean really heard the terms segregation or integration being used when regarding the black community in 2016?

Exactly there hasn't been one because racial segregation was abolished in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Which was 52 years ago.

Now let's discuss the bigger problem with what Stacy Dash said besides her using the terms segregation and integration because honestly that just sounds like Stacy Dash is stuck in the past and I refuse to get stuck there with her. The problem with what she said is she focused only on black networks and black holidays, basically, anything dealing with black people. Take a look at her examples she uses the NAACP Image Awards, BET Network and Black History Month which are all geared towards the Black community.

Oh, Stacy Dash why do you hate the black community so much? Or have you forgotten you are also a part of the black community as you are black and that you did play a role on a television show *whispers* The Game, which was owned by BET Network. You know that same network you despise so much.

Why only focus on BET Network? What about Logo tv which is aimed towards the LGBTQIA+ community or WEtv which is geared towards women. There's TBN Salsa, Telemundo, and Univision which is aimed at Hispanic Americans. But none of these television networks were named, it was just BET Network. These networks do not exist to please Stacy Dash they exist because they are aimed towards minority groups. Minority groups is a term referring to a smaller category of individuals which differentiate from the social majority. Most of the time these minority groups do not hold positions of power, they are not the overly represented group which is where television networks and award shows aimed at their communities come in. In the simplest of terms, representation matters.

Lastly, the statement Stacy Dash said towards the end of her outdated rant completely missed what the hashtag #Oscarssowhite is truly trying to bring visibility towards. Once again, in 2016 much like in 2015, films with racially diverse or predominantly black actors and actresses were once again overlooked. In 2015, Selma was overlooked, but this year, even more, films were overlooked. These are films that dominated not only the box office but also got high marks from many critics. Films such as Straight Outta Compton (link to a post I wrote about the film here) Beasts of No Nation, Creed, The Hateful Eight, but also The Force Awakens. It is not a matter of black people needing to make up their minds, it is a matter of us being able to be recognized for our achievements. In the movies listed above the actors and actresses of color did amazing jobs and they should be recognized for such work as white people are recognized time and time again.

If I do say so myself it seems as though the Oscars need to make up their mind, either segregation or integration.